What Goes Around, Comes Around

Here’s something of interest to those who know me: http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kentonline/news/2012/august/17/roger_moore.aspx

A little bit of background for you?

Last year, wanting to leave one job for more security, I applied to work for the Kent County Agricultural Society. I couldn’t believe the advert, the position was working as PA to the Executive Manager of the Showground, his remit was to organise and put on the longstanding, annual Kent County Show.  I applied and waited with baited breath to see if I got selected for interview.  I did have other things on my mind – Mike had just embarked on the judicial process which would, we were 99.9% sure of, end in his imprisonment.  Our days were spent working, both of us had jobs and evenings were taken up with form filling, trying to persuade the Legal Aid people we did not have £10,000 to contribute towards Mike’s legal costs. And of course, in discussion as to how I would cope with Mike being away.

And then I got an interview and Mike had his first Magistrate Court appearance.  And then I got the job and the day before starting, we were in London to attend Mike’s hearing at the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the same week, on my second day at work in my new job, Mike attended his Plea and Case Management hearing at the County Court.

Last year, the Kent Show made a loss and this was down mostly to the rain, which lashed the marquees.   After the Show, I plunged into my work dealing with all the complaints from visitors, I loved it.  It absorbed my day and took me away from issues at home.

A month later, I took a day off to be with Mike as he was sentenced to three years in prison and then I returned to work as if nothing had happened.  And two weeks later, with the burden of all that was going on gnawing away at me, I took the foolish decision to tell Roger Moore what had been happening and where my husband was.  He took the news extremely well, said that it had nothing to do with me, I’d not been accused of anything, but, and here’s the big but, he felt he should tell the Board of the Kent County Agricultural Society what had been going on.

After that there was a flurry closed door meetings and naively, I thought nothing of this.  Roger went on holiday, and being his PA, I had access to his emails.  I was stunned as emails from a certain member of the board to Roger began asking about details of my husband’s crime and whether or not I should have disclosed to the Board AT INTERVIEW that my husband had been arrested.  The emails intimated that I might claim unfair dismissal if the Board chose to take action against me.  I was aghast.  I printed off the email and showed it to a member of staff there – wrong decision number two.  She actually looked fearful and told me I shouldn’t have printed off the email, but I couldn’t understand what she was talking about.  I put the email in my handbag ready to show to Mike at our next visit, I didn’t know what to do.

The image of two members of the Board marching in and telling me I needed to accompany them upstairs to a meeting and that I was entitled to bring another member of staff with me is etched into my memory.  Indeed, remembering the face of the female member of the board actually makes my stomach churn to this day.  I was suspended on the grounds of having committed a gross misconduct because I had printed and removed from the premises, a confidential email that was the property of the Board of the Kent County Agricultural Society.  Even though that email referred directly to me and my husband and my continuing employ at the Society.

We went through the disciplinary hearings, I was accompanied throughout by an extremely kind and expert friend who, like me, believed that it simply was not possible for them to dismiss me on such spurious grounds.  But we were both wrong.  In the end, seeing the writing on the wall, I paid my money and consulted a solicitor.  She confirmed that I had done wrong, and on that fact combined with my mere two months of employment, I didn’t have a leg to stand on.  The only benefit of my hard earned £80.00 bill was that she wrote to the Society and asked if I could resign rather than be dismissed, something they graciously allowed me to do.  I had only ever been sacked once in my career and that was my first ever job.  I did not want this blemish to go down on my cv.

So Roger, you must know how it feels now.  Sickening.  I was lucky, as you may have realised, I am an extremely dedicated worker.  I was rocked, took a week to recover, picked myself up and applied to Sainsbury’s, thinking they might be my only route to earn money that I desperately needed now that I was fending for myself.  I nearly took the job offered to me, but when I actually sat down and worked out how much I would be paid, I realised I couldn’t afford to pay the bills.  Thankfully a job came up at a temporary agency, and the rest is history.  Impressed by my work I was offered full time employment and am happily beavering away to this day.

In my opinion, the Board of the Kent County Agricultural Society are demonstrating extremely short sightedness.  They have stated that the role of Executive Manager, and that of his secretary too I’d expect, is being axed to save money.  But the Show limps on year after year and without an Executive Manager I’d hazard a guess it’s limping into the graveyard.

So that’s it, some 18 months of anxiety and now it’s 3 years.

In court yesterday for the sentencing hearing.  I’m afraid I lost my cool when told that it would look as if husband had originally not told the truth.  What, says we, he always admitted his guilt.  But, you see there were some things he really did not do, some amounts he really did not take, but because he was told by the barrister that he would get a lesser sentence for pleading guilty at the first instant, he did as was told i.e., pleaded guilty to some things that he did not do.  There’s no paper trail to back up what he did or didn’t do, it’s just one persons word against another’s.  We were advised that a jury would have no sympathy for my husband because he was on an excellent wage ergo why did he feel the need to steal.  That is really missing the point.  But heck, when you go through the legal system, you quickly learn that there is no colour shading, it’s just black and white.  There’s no moral high ground to be had – you either did it or else you did not.  So even though those around him did what he did, they were not on trial and it was their company and they are allowed to take as much as they like out of it.

Mention was made in court of the fact that my husband took money from a “duplicate account”.  This is where money was paid to the company he worked for twice.  I was really hoping that during the trial someone would ask the question “has money been paid back to those people who paid twice?”  No questions like that were asked, and I am led to believe that it was an awful lot of money that was paid into this duplicate account.  But I can no longer get involved – hopefully one day the company in question will conduct an audit and realise they are a bit short of cash and then go in search of it.

I have my first experience of prison visiting tomorrow.  It is farcical trying to book a visit on the phone – the lines, and there are two of them, are permanently engaged – oh no, not when they go off at lunch time, silly me.  You do not have a hope in hell of getting through.  However, you can now book via email – yet again a reason that everyone has to have email – which I did so and I received a curt response giving me a date of tomorrow.  Nope, don’t try having your own life if a loved one is banged up, your life goes on hold too.